Blog Post: Sustainability in Production

Industrial activity is up there among the top contributors of greenhouse emissions, which cause climate change. According to the U.N. Panel on Climate Change, we, as global community, must reduce our emissions by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 in order to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius and subsequently avoid the worse impacts to our planet. To do so, the industrial sector must find ways to be more environmentally sustainable with its use of resources, emission of pollutants, and production of waste This is an area where our industry, with our industrial-grade technology and applications, can help improve and make production processes more sustainable and environmentally-friendly.

Automation can conserve resources 

Automation in the industrial sector has, in recent years, been an investment many are making for increased productivity and long-term cost reduction. Moreover, many have pointed to how automation can conserve energy and natural resources, which as a result would reduce the amount of carbon emissions industrial activities release into the environment. Namely, automating certain processes with better monitoring, control and execution can avoid any waste of resources by detecting and preventing mistakes in the production process.  

While many have championed automation’s role in promoting sustainability, some critics have pointed out that automation and the resulting efficiency and productivity could in fact lead to overproduction and thus more waste. This concern is legitimate. We can see in fashion how sewing robots have accelerated the pace of fast fashion, making manufacturing more expedient and thus allowing brands to produce new collections faster. The downside of this is that the waste produced, for which fast fashion is infamous, grows as a result.  

AI can prevent overproduction

Since technology is the one creating this problem, it is fitting that technology can offer a solution. In the case of fast fashion, many are advocating the use of artificial intelligence and big data to predict trends, anticipate consumer behavior and avoid unnecessary production of clothes that will not sell. Other sectors that put out consumer products can adopt the same approach.

Microsoft News highlighted how Dutch whey protein producer, DVNutrition, implemented the use of AI in its production process to avoid any waste. According to the report, DVNutrition used data-driven insights and predictive analytics to inform decisions to “slow down and even stop production just as its storage tanks fill up” so that it would not overproduce.

Such technological applications require both software and hardware technology to be of a certain standard to be effective in conserving resources used. This is where we in the industrial PC market come in. Smart robotics, a prime example of factory automation and AI, shows how software and hardware go hand-in-hand for a high-functioning application. The software may allow the robot to engage in deep learning and know how to make decisions, but the hardware, especially the data storage and processing modules, ensures that these processes happen without any lags or glitches. The precision that many robotic applications have come to possess are a direct result of advancements in both software and hardware.


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